Olympic classes and Moths
Conditions were so shifty around midday, that race officers abandoned some racing, while other racing was delayed as officials waited for the expected southerly to hit the Harbour, which it vaguely did around 2.00pm, providing a nice breeze to cool down the hot day, but then went west.
Conditions varied, depending on what part of the Harbour your courses were on.
Three-time Olympian Jessica Crisp (AUS) described winds as: "5-10 knots, pleasant.” The Sydney sailor was having her first venture out since the Beijing Games and admitted: “I did what I did in the Medal Race at the Olympics – I sailed an extra lap again today – and I’m not really fit enough – I won’t be doing that tomorrow!”
Crisp finished fifth in Race 1, while her training mate and fellow Beijing Olympian Jannicke Stalstrom won the opening race. “I’m happy with that,” said the Norwegian who like Crisp, says it is too early to decide whether she will campaign for London 2012.
Entries in the regatta include some who have not been back to Sydney since the 2000 Olympic Games. “It’s so great being back,” said Charlie McKee, the 49er bronze medallist from the 2000 Games who is here sailing in the scintillating Moth class, “it’s bringing back wonderful memories and I can’t wait to race here again.”
Fellow 49er and Moth sailor Kevin Hall, who missed 2000 Olympic selection to the McKee brothers, agrees. “I haven’t been back since the Games. Even though I missed 2000 selection, I stayed on to help the McKees. I have only good memories of Sydney, the Harbour and this Club (Woollahra) where we were based and did most our racing from. It’s a pleasure being back here,” he said.
Many young Youth World and Olympic aspirants from Australia and overseas are here at SIRs, the first major Olympic & Invited Classes regatta on the sailing calendar since the Beijing Olympics.
“There’s lots of young talent coming up through the Olympic ranks in Australia, especially in the Laser, 470 and 49er classes,” says Yachting Australia Olympic coach Adrian Finglas.
“The main reason is that clubs around the country and sailing at State level is starting to really pay off. Programs like Belinda Stowell’s (Sydney 2000 470 gold medallist) in Western Australia and Erik Stibbe (Olympic coach) in Sydney have been going for a while and the results are there.
“We are looking good across all States - we had 55 young sailors at a Development camp at Hamilton Island this year; the competition will be stiff for the 2012 Olympic trials,” an enthusiastic Finglas says.
Gabrielle King is one of those youths, but this is her last Youth regatta as such. Having recently moved from the NSW North Coast to Sydney to attend university and further her Olympic chances, King recently won her second Youth World title in the Laser Radial earlier this year.
“We went on the water as scheduled, but we didn’t get a race in. There were huge shifts, it was really unstable,” said King who is excited about heading to her first international adult competition in Europe later this year as she sets her sights on representing at the London Games.
Unfazed, despite it being Day 1, she laughed “SIRs wouldn’t be SIRs without a proper tour of the Harbour!”
However, the Laser Radial Men’s Radial managed to put one race to bed. Laser Radial Grand Masters current and consecutive two-time world champion, Peter Heywood commented on the westerly on his course: “There were lines of breeze coming in puffs in lanes. If you were in the lane, you were a hero; if not, there was no catching up.”
Heywood, regrettably, was in the latter category, and finished the day in 12th place. “They said it would be better breeze tomorrow, I hope the reports are right,” he said.
Two New Zealanders made the best showing in the Men’s Radial; Jackson MacFarlane and Tim Coltman finishing first and second in their only race of the day. In fact the Kiwis finished on the podium in most classes.
After a disappointing Beijing Games, Canadian Mike Leigh came out and won Race 1 of the Laser Standard. “We started in a shifty westerly that was up and down in strength. The first downwind leg turned into a reach and the second upwind we ended up sailing downwind,” said Leigh who took at seven boat length lead at the first windward mark and extended when he hooked into the southerly that followed the westerly in what was a frustrating day for most.
Countries represented are: Australia, Norway, Spain, New Zealand, USA, Croatia, Singapore, Sweden, Canada, Chile, Poland, Switzerland, Finland, South Africa, and Great Britain, winners of an incredible six medals in Beijing inclusive of four gold, one each of silver and bronze.
Hosted by Woollahra Sailing Club, Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club, the SIR is being sailed on Sydney Harbour from 6-9 December, home of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
The 49er, 470, Yngling Moth, 420 and Laser 4.7 classes hit the water well after their 2.15pm onwards start times this afternoon, but got the best of the breeze, which was a little more stable.
In the 49er class, Paul Campbell-James/Mark Asquith (GBR) started their campaign the same way they did at SIRs last year - with two wins. However, the pair did not maintain last year, dropping down the scoreboard each day.
“We’ll try not to make that mistake again,” Asquith laughed, happy with their performance in winds that gusted to 24 knots at times on a choppy sea.
London 2012 aspirants David O’Connor/Iain Jensen were pleased to finish the day second overall. “It was good to finish in front of Nathan (world champion Beijing Olympian Nathan Outteridge),” said O’Connor grinning.
“It was pretty fresh out there and it wasn’t a one-way track; you had to concentrate. We’re happy with our day, but we need to keep it like that for the rest of the regatta,” said O’Connor, who with Jensen, a former sailing partner of Outteridge, were training partners for the Olympian in the lead-up to Beijing.
Outteridge and his crew Euan McNicol, an Olympic coach and noted skiff sailor, finished the day in fourth place. “I’m happy with our fourth overall. This is only my fourth go in the boat since the Beijing Games. I’ve been putting more time into the A Cat (a catamaran class) because I’m trying something different and sailing in those World’s in early January.”
Following a heart-in-the-mouth finish at the Games in Qingdao, in a Medal Race of carnage that was sailed in choppy big seas, Outteridge and his then crew Ben Austin, capsized 100 metres from the finish line while leading the race and watched the gold medal slip from their hands.
“I’ve got to have another go,” Outteridge said. “It’s a long intense program, so I have to find the right crew. I’m not in a hurry, but I’m on the lookout and will probably trial a few different people before I decide,” he said.
Racing continues tomorrow starting from 10.00am, weather permitting.
Provisional Top Three pending protests:
RS:X Women’s after Race 1
1. Jannicke Stalstrom (NOR)
2. Alice Monk (NZL)
3. Lucy Driver (NZL)
RS:X Men’s after Race 1
1. Simon Swinton (NZL)
2. Dean Thompson (NZL)
3. Richard Ellis (NZL)
Laser Standard after Race 1
1. Michael Leigh (CAN)
2. Daniel Mihelic (CRO)
3. Matt Coutts NZL)
Laser Radial Men after Race 1
1. Jackson MacFarlane (NZL)
2. Tim Coltman (NZL)
3. Klade Hauschildt (AUS)
29er after Race 1
1. Angus Rankin/James Dahl (AUS)
2. Dan Meehan/Alex Morris (NZL)
3. Keiran Searle/Sam Phillips (AUS)
Finn after Race 1
1. James Paterson (AUS)
2. Rob McMillan (AUS)
3. Warwick Hill (AUS)
Yngling after two races
1. Hamish Jarrett/L. Jackson/A. Bracken (AUS) 4 points
2. Jordan Reece/M. Reece/A. Reece (AUS) 7
3. Gary Wogas/C. Sloey/A. Fesq (AUS) 9
470 Open after two races
1. Shane Hughes/Felix Paterson (AUS) 5 points
2. Stacey Omay/Chelsea Hall (AUS) 7
3. Tom Brewer/William Ryan (AUS) 8
4. Tristan Brown/Tim Lynch (AUS) 12
5. Sam Kivell/Max Taylor (AUS) 15
6. Georgina Kemp/Catherine Shanks (AUS) 18
49er after two races
1. Paul Campbell-James/Mark Asquith (GBR) 2 points
2. David O’Connor/Iain Jensen 5
3. William & Samuel Phillips 6
Laser 4.7 after three races
1. Ella Evans (AUS) 6 points
2. Liam Bennett (AUS) 9
3. Thomas Vincent (AUS) 10
Moth after two races
1. Bora Gulari (USA) 4 points
2. John Harris (AUS) 5
3. Ben Crocker (AUS) 8
420 double-handed after two races
1. Byron White/Jay Griffin (AUS) 3 points
2. Sean Ott/Adam Lahy (AUS) 7
3. Karl Bromfield/Marcus Conway (AUS) 8